I had a guitar player over to record recently. We paired up Amp Designer (getting a relatively clean tone, using a slightly tweaked version of the Large Blackface Clean preset) with Eventide’s UltraTap and MangledVerb, and came up with a really interesting and unusual lead guitar tone.
In this article, Eli Krantzberg puts Universal Audio's Pure Plate reverb to work in Logic Pro X.
In this video, sponsored by Universal Audio, I’ve put the UA Manley VoxBox channel strip to work in two very different musical contexts. One is an already tracked rough, raw vocal recorded in a budget home studio. The other a pristine jazz vocal recorded in a state-of-the-art recording facility.
In one of my recent, not infrequent, Skype calls with my Groove3 colleague Doug Zangar, a couple of interesting little-known tips involving the Option key and automation came up. I’d like to share them with you here.
Antares has recently come out with a fantastic upgrade to their flagship pitch correction plug-in, Auto Tune. The new Auto Tune Pro has a completely redesigned interface, making it easier and more intuitive to use than ever.
Logic Pro’s Flex Pitch is a fantastic asset to us all, and it’s free of course. But Auto Tune Pro does things that not only does Flex pitch not do, but no other pitch correction plug-in (that I know of) does!
Logic Pro X lends itself very nicely to the task of processing a mono guitar in stereo. In this video, sponsored by Universal Audio, I’m going to use two different Universal Audio guitar amp plug-ins, the Chandler Limited GAV19T, and the Engel E646VS, to create a nice rich, thick ethereal guitar solo sound.
Mono to Stereo
There are several ways to set up stereo processing of a mono track. Here’s the way I like to do it:
- Route your guitar track output to an unused Bus. This automatically generates an Aux Track set to stereo, with the appropriate bus set as the input.
- Convert it to mono by clicking on the format button at the top of the Channel Strip in the Mixer.
- Then create a new unused Aux Track (default key command is Control + N in the Mixer). Set this to the same input.
You now have the same signal arriving at two mono busses. They can be processed and panned individually for a fully customizable stereo image.
In the following video, I use a different Universal Audio amp on each channel. Of course, the tones are different but blended together, they create a unique and rich sound. This is a relatively clean guitar part, but I don’t like going too clean. I used the third channel on the Engel E646VS for a sound with a bit of bite, but that is not too overdriven.
I chose something nice and warm sounding in the Chandler Limited GAV19T with the Tone set to thick, and the boost at +4. Then, I set up a contrasting delay offset from the Engel amp, to create some nice cross-rhythms. I ran these both through Logic Pro X’s Space Designer and panned to taste.
In this video tutorial, Eli Krantzberg shows you one of the creative ways he likes to use sidechain compression. He'll use Logic Pro X’s Compressor on both a guitar and a bass track, to create a subtle interplay of accents that blend with a drum groove.
First off, what exactly is sidechaining?
A sidechain is sometimes referred to as a key input or a detector input. It’s a fancy way of describing the process of getting a compressor or gate to be triggered by a source other than the audio running through the channel it is placed on.
If you place a compressor on a guitar track, for example, it is triggered by and processes that guitar. When you set an alternate or sidechain input to that compressor, it will “listen to” some other audio instead of the guitar playing through the track it is placed on. It listens to the external audio arriving at the sidechain input, and it reacts based on that incoming audio it is listening to. But, it acts upon the audio playing through the track it is placed on.
The audio that is sent to the sidechain input does not necessarily have to be heard in the mix. It only has to be present for the compressor to “hear” it. This lends itself to a lot of creative possibilities, either subtle or dramatic.
In this video, I’ll show you one of the creative ways I like to use sidechain compression to take advantage of this. I use Logic Pro X’s compressor on both a guitar and a bass track and have it listen to a quarter note pulse that is not audible in the music.
The quarter note pulse provides a gentle lilt that contrasts and fits nicely with the main drum groove, which is not based on a strict quarter note pulse. The result is a subtle interplay of accents that blend with the groove of the drums and gives more movement to the guitar and bass parts.
In this video, sponsored by Universal Audio, Eli Krantzberg looks at mixing a Fender Telecaster, recorded directly into the Apollo audio interface, using the UAD Friedman BE 100 guitar plug-in.
Friedman BE 100
One of the things that make the Friedman BE 100 so versatile is the choice of channels to use. The CLN channel, while nominally a clean guitar sound, still has plenty of “hair” on it. The BE channel input provides a great distorted tone.
When paired with the gain and input knob, it’s easily tameable so as not to be too over the top. The HBE channel offers the heaviest distortion. So, just with these three separate modes, you get great versatility from the tone generated by this plug-in.
I also really like that you can then blend in the clean volume separately from the Gain knob that’s used to control the amount of distortion from the amp’s 12AX7 driven preamp section.
The FX rack is fully featured enough to make this a stand-alone plug-in, other than for reverb of course. The amp filters are a fantastic compliment to the main tone controls on the front panel.
The Tight control cuts the low end, while the Smooth knob cuts the highs. But the real highlight of the extended controls found in this section are the recording chains. Different combinations of cabinets, micing, and EQ are easily auditioned, either using the flip menu, the +/- buttons, or the fantastic Auto mode, which scrolls through the presets based on a chosen interval of time (one bar, two bars, etc.).
A nice bonus is the ability to bypass the preamp and preamp sections individually. If you want to record with your own external tube or solid state preamp, you can still take advantage of what this great sounding plug-in has to offer.
The noise gate is simple but perfectly effective for taming noisy single coil pickups. And the LoFi delay is the perfect match for the tones generated from this amp.
Rounding things off nicely is the power soak knob, which allows you to crank up the tube guitar amp to drive the signal into distortion, while still keeping the output level under control.
Check out this video, as I put it to work on a Fender Telecaster that was recorded straight into the Universal Audio Apollo:
Flex Pitch has lots of uses. Although it’s primarily designed for tuning vocals, I often like using it as a quick and dirty scratch pad to experiment with vocal harmony parts.
In the songwriting process, it’s often difficult to imagine, or hear in your mind, what certain vocal harmony ideas may sound like.
Flex Pitch is a great way to realize these ideas and experiment, with minimum fuss.
In this video, sponsored by Universal Audio, Eli Krantzberg looks at the Precision Delay Mod plug-in on a clav track and a rhythm guitar track.
Precision Delay Mod
The Precision Delay Mod, part of the Precision Mix Rack Collection, is an interesting stereo delay processor with modulation.
What makes it interesting, I think, is the ability to control the amount of delayed signal routed back to its input (feedback) in both positive and negative values.
With positive values, the polarity of the feedback signal is in phase with the original source signal.
With negative values, the polarity of the feedback signal is inverted.
The same applies to the mix knob. The delays can be mixed with the original signal either in phase or out of phase by any amount you want. This allows for some interesting effects.
Modes & LFO
Precision Delay has five modes of operation. In addition to three delay styles (dual delay, Xover delay, and ping pong delay), it also offers chorus and flanger modes.
There are six LFOs to choose from in the modulation section. A sine wave or a triangle wave, starting at different positions in their cycle.
Modulation, as well as the delays, can be synced to tempo. So, the mod section works great for a subtle type of movement, or faster more deliberate oscillation rates for a more noticeable effect.
Hear it in action in this video on a clavinet track first, and then on a rhythm guitar track.
In this video, Eli Krantzberg shows you how to edit the existing violin articulation ID set to work with the Chris Hein Solo Violin instrument.
Chris Hein Solo Strings
The Chris Hein Solo Strings library is the most comprehensive set of string instruments I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Each instrument has 26 pre-programmed articulation switches. So, not only do you get the usual short and long playing styles but lots of nuanced variations of each, as well of course as more esoteric articulations.
The legato transitions between notes are the best I’ve heard to date. The performance parameters are extremely customizable but are already set to sound great straight out of the box. The included convolution reverbs blend so perfectly with the samples that you aren’t even aware of them until you edit some of the parameters.
The vibratos and LFO shapes are all customizable and perfectly laid out to work with string instruments. One thing I really like about this collection of solo instruments is the ability to turn them into Ensembles. By increasing the number of players (up to five), this library contains the makings of fantastic sounding small ensemble sections.
These solo instruments also sound fantastic when paired with Logic Pro X’s new Studio Strings ensembles and sections. The extensive articulation switching available in the Chris Hein instruments is perfectly suited to be paired with Logic’s new Articulation ID system.
In this video, I’ll show you how to edit the existing violin articulation ID set to work with the Chris Hein Solo Violin instrument. Setting up your third-party libraries to work with Logic’s articulation ID switching functions is a great way to get one consistent workflow under your belt that you can use across all sample libraries.
To learn more about the Chris Hein Solo Strings titles, check them out here at Best Service:
In this video, sponsored by Universal Audio, Eli Krantzberg looks at tracking live drums with the SSL 4000 E Channel. As a bonus, he’ll put Logic Pro X 10.4.1’s new ability to calculate the tempo of multi-tracked audio to work!
Being able to record audio with FX is both a blessing and a curse. The bad part is that it forces you to commit to capturing your source with some processing that will ultimately help the recording.
That’s also the good part!
In our little UAD universe, DSP resources are scarce. So anything you can commit to while you are tracking frees up that many resources for mixing later. But DSP aside, I also believe committing early on is efficient workflow.
I’m not suggesting painting yourself into a corner by committing to every little nuance that will be used in the mix. But as recording engineers, we learn through experience some general moves that we pretty much know will be necessary and useful as a starting point when it comes time to mix.
I’ve tracked my same drum set in this same room with the same mics, probably a hundred times. I know the sound of my kit in my room with my mics. And I know that regardless of genre, the different kit pieces will almost always benefit from certain general boosts/cuts at specific frequencies.
So why not commit to them at the beginning, get them out of the way, and then not have to think about them anymore? It frees me up creatively to zero in on more specific tweaks when it comes time for the actual mix.
SSL 4000 E Channel Strip
I’ve tried tracking my drums with several of the UAD Unison plug-ins; and for my setup and aesthetic sensibilities, I really like the sound of Universal Audio’s SSL 4000 E EQ's. I’ve got a Console preset saved that calls up an SSL 4000 E Channel Strip on each of the five channel strips I generally use when I record drums.
In this video, I’ll take you through the settings I like, and then track some live playing twice, for comparison sake. First with the Apollo’s built-in preamps, and then with the SSL 4000 E Channel Strip on each Console channel strip being used.
And as a bonus, we’ll put Logic Pro X 10.4.1’s new ability to calculate the tempo of multi-tracked audio to work!
Logic Pro was long overdue for an updated algorithmic reverb, and ChromaVerb, introduced in Logic Pro X 10.4, is everything and more I had hoped for. In addition to sounding fantastic, it’s got several unique features that, I think, make it really stand out.
Tempo Sync’d Predelay
Predelay, as we all know, places a delay between the original sound and the onset of the reverb’s early reflections and reverb tail. A longer predelay will move the reverb tail out of the way of the dry signal for more clarity. We usually adjust it by ear. Too much, and the reverb sounds too distant and artificial. Too close, and the original signal might not stand out sufficiently form the reverb tail. Being able to tempo sync it to a rhythmic value based on musical subdivisions adds a rhythmic element that can be very interesting.
Freeze is an interesting function. When enabled, it allows you to recirculate the current signal indefinitely. It holds, or “freezes” the reverb in place at the time the function is invoked until it is suspended. Coupled with some judicious use of automation, it can create some interesting sustained reverb effects.
Although it looks like an EQ, it’s not really. The horizontal axis is used to create a position in the frequency spectrum, like a regular EQ. But the vertical axis is used to scale the decay value at that specific position by percentage. On the right-hand vertical axis, we see the decay value indicated in seconds. As we change the central decay knob, the scale on the right changes. Put simply; the Damping EQ allows us to tailor the decay time at specific points in the frequency spectrum.
Here is an example of some drum reverb with a flat damping EQ:
And now here is that same reverb with a dramatic damping EQ cut in the mid range:
The Mono Maker slider allows us to select a frequency point below which the signal is summed to mono. The range above the slider position remains in stereo. This is the greatest function I never knew I needed! Seriously though, it is great not only for interesting sound design but also for confining the low end of a subtly used reverb to mono. This is great, for example, if you are using a subtle drum room reverb and want to keep the low end tight and focused.
Here is a drum loop with normal stereo reverb applied
And now here is that same reverb, with Mono Maker set to keep everything below 650 Hz in mono.
A nice design touch is the ability to step through different room types in the popover window that appears when you click on the currently loaded room type name. These change the specific room algorithm used while preserving any settings you have tweaked on the bottom of the plug-in interface. It’s the same idea used in Logic’s Compressor. Set your basic parameters, and then audition different compressor algorithms by changing the type while everything else is preserved. With Chromaverb room types become progressively more lively and colorful, with the latter options exhibiting interesting and unusual reflection and bloom patterns.
Here is a drum loop going through the “Chamber” room type:
And here is the same reverb with the same parameter values, using the “Strange Room” room type:
ChromaVerb is fun and intuitive to use, either for conventional reverbs, or more esoteric effects.
Take some time to explore it!
In this free video, brought to you with the support of Universal Audio, Eli Krantzberg shows you how to combine Apollo hardware’s direct monitoring with Logic Pro’s software monitoring. Doing this allows for a simplified audio punch-in recording workflow with a consistent headphone mix.
Logic Pro X’s Software Monitoring & Apollo's Direct Monitoring
The great thing about working with Universal Audio's Apollo hardware is the near-zero latency direct monitoring. The Console app also allows us to set up sends in order to monitor with effects, without printing them. This is great for example when recording vocalists who want to hear reverb in their headphones, while the track is recorded dry.
A problem arises when you want to punch in. The audio played back from Logic during the pre-roll will be dry. Here I’ll look at a workflow that involves enabling Logic’s software monitoring while also monitoring directly from the Apollo.
By enabling Logic’s “Independent monitoring level for record-enabled channel strips” preference, the output level of the record enabled channel strip can be pulled down completely while retaining a separate level when in playback mode. Working this way allows for the possibility of using pre-fader sends within Logic Pro X to monitor through software reverb.
Watch the video to learn more about this workflow.
In this video, sponsored by Universal Audio, Eli Krantzberg shows the UAD Pultec EQP-1A and the Fairchild 670 in action on a drum bus.
The Pultec EQP-1A is known for its unique EQ curves that result from simultaneous boosting and cutting around the same frequency range. Hear how it is used on the drum bus to tighten up the kick drum and bring out the ride cymbal.
The Fairchild 670
The Fairchild 670 has a deserved reputation as a great bus compressor. It glues together the elements passing through it nicely. Here it is used in its traditional stereo mode, although it does also do lat/vert (mid-side) processing. The built-in side-chain filter is a great feature for a drum bus. It allows you to tune the frequency range of the compressor's input with a lo-cut filter. This allows the compressor to act more naturally on the drums by reacting less to the lower frequencies of the kick drum. So the kick drum maintains its transients and solid low end, while the compressor reacts to the rest of the drum kit.
Check it out here:
Saturation. Its one of those words we throw around a lot. But what does it mean?
To me, I equate it with a sense of thickness in the sound. A slightly overdriven signal, usually in the low or low mid part of the frequency spectrum. We often use the term distortion to describe it as well. You know, the “pleasing” kind of distortion. In the analog world, we got it by driving a signal slightly too hot onto tape. It was quantifiable, deliberate, and had a definite quality and sound to it. In the world of DAW plug-ins, there are lots of options. Some subtle, some not so subtle. Some pleasing, some deliberately nasty. There are as many flavors of saturation as there is ice cream. However you want to define it, attaining the mythical saturation sweet-spot is a bit of voodoo in our digital word.
In the Old Days
Logic Pro users have had some tools in the past to create this kind of thickening effect. Many, myself included, often use the Distortion plug-in. Driving the signal, and then reducing the output by the same amount, results in a noticeably pleasing thickening effect. The Tape Delay has been used for years to create a subtle tape saturation effect. Running an audio signal through the plug-in, with no delay or feedback time, emulates the tape saturation effect nicely.
Now, a New Tool!
Logic Pro X 10.4 has brought us the old Camel Audio Phat FX multi-effects plug-in. At first glance, this is a spectacular sounding multi-effects plug-in, loaded with nice modulation facilities and several FX modules. But it’s got a hidden secret weapon. A three-stage distortion unit with a variety of algorithms ranging from subtle to aggressive. My new favorite mixing tool is to turn off all the modules in Phat FX and then enable only the Distortion module. The Soft Saturation and Vari-Drive algorithms in particular sound to me like the perfect saturation tools to thicken up almost any signal running through it. Add to that the tuneable Bass Enhancer module, and this moves Phat FX into the realm of master bus mix tool extraordinaire!
I also love that you can modify Phat FX's signal flow, so the three components can be placed in any order. Maybe you want the bass enhancer feeding into one or both of the distortion/saturation stages. Or perhaps you want the bass enhancer after both of them? Each combination results in subtle variations.
The mix control in the Output section allows you to further control the effect, by blending the amount you want into the summed signal at the output stage. Maybe you want to drive some heavy saturation into the signal but only use a little bit of it. Or perhaps some subtle amounts, but higher up in the blend with the dry signal. Again, all the permutations and variations yield exciting results, depending on how aggressive you want the effect to be.
Let's listen to some examples.
The first two have Phat FX on the mix bus. First, you will hear the mix unprocessed by Phat FX. That is followed by the same musical segment with a subtle amount of soft saturation and vari drive, combined with a bit of bass enhancer. The bass enhancer is placed between the two saturation stages, and the output section is set to subtly fatten up the signal with minimal volume changes. All stages are used conservatively. The result is a delicate yet noticeable cohesiveness (dare I use the word glue!) to the summed elements. Listen either with headphones or good monitors to get the full effect.
These same modules can be used as a volume enhancer as well. In this next example, the same values are used in each of the three stages. The bass enhancer is placed after the two saturation modules though instead of in between them as in the previous example. Here the output and mix levels are full up. There is a noticeable increase in volume. The soft limiting algorithm is still used at the Output stage. This is a great way to add some fullness not only to a mix but individual tracks or busses as well. I wouldn’t suggest these settings on every track in the mix, but it makes a profound impact on the master bus here, and would probably be great on an aggressive parallel drum bus. The first example is with Phat FX disabled. The second has it enabled on the master bus with the settings shown in the image below:
To be fair, let’s not throw out our old tools just yet. Although not all shiny and new, they still pack a nice punch. Here is the same musical example but with Logic Pro’s venerable Distortion plug-in replacing Phat FX. Again, it is on the master bus. It is bypassed in the first example and enabled in the second. 6 dB of drive is added to the signal, while 6 dB is attenuated at the output stage of the plug-in.
No article of this nature would be complete without including Logic’s Tape Delay. Here the same example is used. First dry and then wet. The delay and feedback time are completely off. The frequency range is wide open. A nice warm blending of the signal results when the wet tape delay signal is added. Because the dry level is completely off, only the saturated part of the signal is heard. Of course, blending the dry and wet together yields perfectly useable and interesting results. But this example illustrates the tape delay saturation on its own.
They are all interesting in their own way. I for one though am thrilled to have these new Camel Audio based algorithms available to add to the collection of useful master bus “glue” style processors. It’s fabulous as a general multi-effects processor, especially with its deep modulation capabilities. But these saturation elements are fantastic on their own as well.
Never before has Logic Pro had as comprehensive a set of internal mix bus style plug-ins available without third-party add-ons.
Officially, Smart Tempo does not work yet with MIDI. But unofficially, there is a workflow that does allow Smart Tempo to accurately map freely played MIDI, and it’s not difficult!
Smart Tempo & MIDI
The key to understanding how and why this works is the slightly awkwardly worded “Maintain Time Position of All Regions” function in the File Tempo Editor’s Actions menu. When working in Adapt mode, any changes to the beat markers will be updated immediately in the Tempo Track. So with this option enabled, any timeline offsets that result from the tempo mapping are applied to all other regions as well. So, they stay in sync with each other.
Free Video Tutorial
I’ve illustrated the entire process in the free video below:
How It Works
Here is a quick summary of what is happening and why this works:
- When you’ve got freely played MIDI, convert one of the files to an audio file.
- Set your project tempo mode to Adapt.
- Enable “Maintain Time Position of All Regions” function in the File Tempo Editor’s Actions menu.
Because it was played independently of the click the tempo chunks embedded in this newly generated audio file are incorrect. Open it up in the File Tempo Editor and invoking the “Remove Original Recording Tempo and Analyze Again” function. This will not only create a tempo map of the freely played MIDI but should also trigger a downbeat shifting while keeping the relative positions of all existing regions.
Keep Mode Workaround
If working in Keep mode, the Actions menu item “Adapt Project Tempo and All Regions to Region Tempo and Downbeat” does the same thing as “Maintain Time Position of All Regions”. But the action is only triggered manually when you invoke the command, instead of updating automatically as it does in Adapt mode.
There seems to be a small bug though that sometimes prevents the shifting of the downbeat. If that happens, it is easily corrected by reassigning which beat marker is to be identified as the downbeat in the File tempo Editor.
I hope we may see fully integrated Smart Tempo support for MIDI in the future, but for now, this will get you there. I have to say, it certainly is exciting to be able to capture some freely played MIDI and have Logic Pro X calculate the tempo and placement automatically. Such a feat is actually quite incredible!
Logic Pro X 10.4 Update Explained
To learn more about Smart Tempo and the other new Logic 10.4 features, check out my Groove3 videos here:
In Logic Pro X 10.4, the consolidation of the old MIDI Draw functions into a new and improved Region Automation has a lot of benefits.
We now have a full-text description of the displayed parameter in the Track Header, instead of simple CC numbers shown on the individual region headers. We can also now easily work with multiple lanes of MIDI-based automation being displayed simultaneously in the Tracks Area. And it is easier than ever to cycle through the used automation parameters in the MIDI editors.
Some people have found it confusing adapting old workflows. So, let’s look at a few common scenarios.
Here is a simple MIDI region that contains both sustain pedal and pitch bend info. Viewing region automation in the Tracks Area, it is simple to use the newly renamed “Cycle Through Used Parameters” key command to toggle the display of a single automation lane between the different automated parameters.
To display and work with the multiple automated parameters together, simply expand the automation view using the automation arrow in the Track Header and the + icon to add additional automation lanes to the display. Notice the automated parameter and accompanying MIDI channel is displayed in the Track Header.
In the Piano Roll Editor, the automation button in the menu bar now opens an automation view that allows you to toggle between track and region automation. In fact, there is a new key command, directly above the new “cycle through” key command, that allows you to easily toggle back and forth between track and region automation. It is unassigned by default.
Using the same above example, it is simple to cycle through the automated parameters either via the same “cycle through” key command, or the cycle through button at the right of the automation header.
It is not yet possible to view multiple lanes of automation simultaneously in the MIDI editors, but this is a great first step in that direction.
The same automation functionality is available in the Score Editor as well, when in Linear View
Audio Track Editor
A nice bonus is that both track and region automation is now also available in the Audio Track Editor. Same routine as the others; enable automation view, choose either region or track automation, and cycle through the used parameters either with the mouse or with the “Cycle Through” key command. This is a great way to keep your tracks zoomed to a narrow height in the Tracks Area, and then instantly switch to an expanded view for the purposes of automation editing.
R.I.P. MIDI Draw
MIDI Draw was great, but it has had its day. I think making the transition to this new consolidated Region Automation paradigm makes a lot of sense. Your MIDI Draw key commands should now work with Region Automation. The small inconvenience some may find in modifying their workflow is, in my opinion, far outweighed by the benefits.
Smart Tempo, introduced in Logic Pro X 10.4, is arguably the most significant new audio handling feature in Logic Pro X since the introduction of Flex Time. In this article, Eli Krantzberg will look at some basic Smart Tempo features and workflows.
What is Smart Tempo?
Smart Tempo is a powerful series of new tempo analysis, detection, and editing functions with multiple uses. Using Smart tempo, you can record a performance free of any click or time reference, and have Logic Pro adapt the project tempo to match the tempo of your performance. Alternatively, you can also use it to keep the Project tempo and adapt the free recording to conform to it.
The first thing to keep in mind is, don’t panic. If you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the way Smart Tempo works, you don’t have to use it. You can turn it off and have it leave your newly recorded, existing, or imported, audio alone. In fact, I suggest you start by turning it off until you explore its features and functions and then decide how it will integrate into your workflow.
New projects are programmed to start with Smart Tempo features already disabled. If you are working from your custom templates, open your Project Settings to confirm the new functions are off. You will find a new Smart Tempo tab in the Project Settings Window. Here you will find a drop-down menu with three Smart Tempo Modes: Keep Project Tempo, Adapt Project Tempo, Automatic Mode. Set it to Keep mode, and your project tempo will not be affected by audio recorded or added to your project.
Below this initial setting, you will see two more fields for the new Flex & Follow behavior, which is part of Smart Tempo. One field affects newly recorded audio, the other affects imported audio. Leave these both at Off, and you can safely continue working the way you always have in earlier versions of Logic Pro X.
Watch this video to get a feel for how Logic Pro X's new Smart Tempo features work. See Keep Mode and Adapt Mode in action on a freely recorded shaker part.
Now that You’re Safe and Comfortable
Now that that is out of the way you can relax and take a deep breath. When you are ready, continue reading.
To begin using Smart Tempo, you choose the Project Tempo mode to set the overall tempo behavior for the project. You can do this in the Project settings Window we just discussed, or you can do it from within your project, in the LCD at the top of the screen. There is a new field, directly under the tempo, where you can switch between the three available Smart Tempo modes.
Project Tempo Modes
The Project Tempo mode determines whether the project tempo is maintained, or adapts to the tempo of audio recordings and imported audio files.
Keep Project Tempo maintains the project tempo when you record audio or import audio files. However, that is not all there is to Keep mode. The Smart Tempo settings window we discussed earlier has new Flex & Follow region settings that affect the behavior of newly recorded or imported audio when using Keep mode. When the Flex & Follow setting in the “Set New Recordings to” field is set to one of its three active modes, newly recorded audio will conform to the project tempo.
Smart Tempo - Keep
To understand how Keep mode works, try the following:
- 1. Create a new project and set the Project Tempo Mode to Keep.
- 2. Set the Flex & Follow filed for new recordings to On + Align to Bars and Beats.
- 3. In your project, record something rhythmic, like clapping your hands, or a shaker, without any click or tempo reference present.
- 4. Press Stop.
Upon pressing stop, you may (or may not) be presented with the following dialog box:
Click the “Don’t Show” button and ignore it for now. Playback your new recording along with the project click and you will find that your claps or shaker, or whatever you recorded, is in time with the project tempo. Pretty impressive, huh?
Smart Tempo - Adapt
When the project tempo mode is set to Adapt, the project tempo will be altered to match the tempo of your freely recorded audio and/or imported audio; depending on your Flex & Follow settings. But that’s not all. Not only will Adapt mode map out the tempo of your freely recorded or imported audio; when you move, copy, or edit your audio regions, the tempo of the regions moves with them. Choose this mode for free recording without the metronome or other tempo references, or when you want the project tempo to follow region edits.
To get a feel for this mode, set your project tempo mode to Adapt. You will notice that the Global Tempo track will open automatically, showing the current project tempo. As we did earlier, set the Flex & Follow field for New recordings in the Smart Tempo settings window to On + Align to Bars and Beats.
Now do the same thing as before. Record some freely played hand claps or other rhythmic elements, with no click or tempo reference. Press Stop when you are done, and watch the tempo track magically conform to your recording.
Depending on the timing variations in your recorded audio, you may get either subtle or significant tempo calculations as a result. Here is what I got from some relatively evenly played hand claps.
Smart Tempo - Automatic Mode
Once you understand the basics of Keep and Adapt modes, you’ll understand Automatic mode. When set to Automatic, Logic Pro chooses between either the Adapt or Keep behavior, based on whether or not a musical reference is present. That can be either the click, another region, a drum loop, or even the presence of a MIDI clock signal being received. When one of these is present, the project tempo is maintained, like Keep mode. When none are present, the project tempo adapts to match the tempo curves of recorded or added material.
Start with Adapt Mode
A good general rule of thumb is that if you are starting a new project and don’t know the tempo of what you have in mind to record, start with Adapt mode. Once Smart Tempo has established the tempo of the initial recording you want to continue building your music on, switch back to Keep mode. There’s lots more to both Adapt and Keep modes, but this will get you started understanding their basic principles.
To learn more about using Smart Tempo in Logic Pro X and the other new features in version 10.4, check out my videos here:
Today’s tip is so simple and obvious that I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t thought of it on my own before it was pointed out to me recently by fellow groove3 / logic-pro-expert colleague Doug Zangar.
It’s got to do with a nice fringe benefit of the Piano Roll Window’s Collapse Mode function.
Using Collapse Mode With Drums
When this feature was first introduced to Logic Pro X, its intended purpose was to eliminate wasted space in the Piano Roll Editor when working on drum parts.
Usually, when editing drum parts, we are working with a small subset of notes (tom, hi-hat, snare, kick, cymbal, etc.). Depending on the instrument being used and its mapping, these sounds might be spread out over large ranges of the MIDI note range, resulting in the need to scroll vertically when zoomed in.
By invoking this function, only the used notes are displayed, the unused notes are hidden from view. We can work at a zoomed in view and look at only the notes we need. It makes for a very elegant drum editing interface.
Key Switching & Collapse Mode
Collapse Mode also makes for a great way of working with third-party orchestral or brass libraries that utilize key switching to change playing articulations. The key switch notes, by design, need to be located several octaves away from an instrument’s normal playing range. The result is a lot of vertical scrolling when creating or editing the actual key switch notes.
Collapse mode to the rescue!
By invoking this view mode, the empty octaves are hidden from the display, and the key switch notes are easily accessible either above or below the actual notes the instrument is playing. So again, we can eliminate scrolling, and work at a comfortable zoom level while still viewing all the elements in the region. It makes working with key switch based libraries all the more inviting.
Great tip Doug; thanks!